Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
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fring Enhances Mobile IM Client with fringAdd-ons

July 1, 2008

fring claims that since they opened their API last Monday that hundreds of apps were submitted "proving that there's an insatiable appetite in the U.S. for new mobile widgets and add-ons."  In the past week, fring has approved four of these submitted apps/widgets which will be announced tomorrow.

Today, fring announces new fringAdd-on applications for social networking, video streaming and email notification specifically for Facebook, Google's social networking site Orkut, VTap and Gmail. Essentially any web developer can develop a fringAdd-on just by heading on over to Only basic knowledge of PHP & XML is required.

Microsoft Drops VoIP from Windows Live Messenger

June 26, 2008

Just saw this article that reiterates Microsoft's decision last year that the existing VoIP partnership with Verizon would be terminating in 2008. (See 2006 launch of Windows Live Messenger w/ Verizon deal) As of today you can use Windows Live Messenger users to make regular landline and mobile phone calls, but this functionality is set to expire on July 15th 2008 in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and the USA on August 31st 2008.

Once again, Microsoft's consumer-play VoIP offerings seems very incoherent with many stops & starts. They're on again off again... First, they added SIP to Windows Messenger and it worked with 3rd party SIP ITSPs such as Net2Phone.

Dell Video Chat Launches

June 26, 2008

Today, Dell will launch Dell Video Chat powered by SightSpeed, which will be pre-bundled on all consumer Dell PCs. Landing Dell is a major win for SightSpeed, a competitor to Skype, Microsoft Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, and others.

I spoke with Eric Quanstrom, Vice President of Marketing for Sightspeed about this major annoucement. I also installed Dell Video Chat to check it out for myself, so I'll include some screenshots along the way.

Eric said, "We've been bundled with camera manufactureres before but we've never been resident on OEM PC hardware.

Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro webcam for Mac

June 24, 2008

Logitech today unveiled its first Mac-compatible webcam with premium autofocus technology and Carl Zeiss optics - the Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro webcam for Mac. The new Logitech webcam of course works with iChat and Skype and features a 2-megapixel camera sensor.

The new Logitech webcam uses a voice coil motor for its autofocus system, instead of a stepper motor. According to the news, "Focusing is fast and fluid - crisp even in extreme close-ups only 10 cm from the camera lens. Logitech's autofocus system compensates for changes in image-edge sharpness and refocuses images in less than three seconds"

What I don't get is why Logitech chooses to make operating system specfic webcams. Isn't USB supposed to be an industry standard?

SightSpeed Business Upgrade Adds 9-way Video

June 23, 2008

Today, SightSpeed will announce a significant upgrade to SightSpeed Business, which was launched last fall. The new version offers simultaneous 9-way video and text chat. I'm a huge fan of SightSpeed, which doesn't get nearly the amount of attention that Skype gets yet has some features Skype lacks. Check out my 2006 review of SightSpeed 5.0.

Skype 4.0 beta New Look, New Features...

June 19, 2008

Skype announced Skype 4.0 beta yesterday. I was supposed to be on the briefing conference call, but was tied up with finishing up the Movable Type 4.2 migration. But I wanted to bring information about this major 'point' release to your attention. Better late than never I guess.

First, below are three videos provided by Skype.

Jangl & TalkPlus Spell VoIP Troubles Ahead?

May 8, 2008

Om over at GigaOm writes that Jangl was looking to sell itself earlier this week and is "headed towards an ignominious end" and adds that Talkplus "is going nowhere fast". I wrote a detailed write-up on TalkPlus, interviewing TalkPlus CEO Jeff Black at ITEXPO and my biggest fascination was how the supposedly reverse engineered Skype. I wrote, "One final interesting thing we talked about at ITEXPO is that TalkPlus has built their own Skype gateway. In fact, when pressed further, Jeff mentioned they actually reverse engineered Skype's protocol.

Telcos Join Forces to Battle Skype?

May 6, 2008

According to analysts at ThinkAnton (ThinkPanmure), AT&T and other international incumbents plan on launching a global Skype competitor.

"We believe that AT&T, in conjunction with perhaps 10-15 other incumbent operators such as British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, and NTT, is preparing to launch, in 2009, a competitor of sorts to Skype. We believe that the motivation to do this would be to keep subscribers from completely disappearing, reducing win-back marketing costs."

Their key points the analysts stress is how "incumbent telephone operators have been losing wired access lines for a few years, to a variety of destinations: cellular, cable TV operators, competitive wireline carriers and, in a sense, also to IP telephony operators such as Skype."

They claim that the incumbent operators have been able to make up for these losses by entering new businesses such as cellular, DSL/fiber, and television.

Here's the rest of the analyst report "teaser":

However, the loss of the long-time telephone number often means that the incumbent phone operator loses the relationship with the customer entirely. Why? Because the consumer can buy access for his VoIP service such as Skype from another source, such as cable modem, 3G cellular, WiMax, or a competitive DSL/fiber carrier.

VoIP Call Screening

April 30, 2008

Robert Traphan, a college friend of mine stayed at my house last night and we were talking about the various VoIP products and services. Robert is a former SunRocket customer until the SunRocket implosion. Robert was a huge fan of SunRocket over both Packet8 and Vonage. One of his favorite features was SunRocket Signature Message Screener, a piece of software that runs on your PC and allows you to see who is calling (Caller ID with Name) via a TOAST icon in the System Tray. Even cooler, SunRocket Signature Message Screen lets you screen the voicemail message on your PC speakers as it is being left in real-time and it allows you to redirect the call to a predefined number (such as your cell phone).

SunRocket Signature Message Screener image courtesy of

Because it automatically plays out your PC speakers, the software gives your hosted VoIP voicemail service the feeling of a true home answering machine.

OnState, the Skype Call Center functionality Enabler, Used by B4 Consulting

April 30, 2008

I always find it fascinating to read about companies that take standard Skype and add additional features that make it a great solution for various business processes beyond just VoIP. One such company is OnState, the creator of OnState ACD for Skype, which adds ACD & call center functionality to Skype. They recently announced support for Zimbra,  a popular open source server and client software for messaging and collaboration - email, group calendaring, contacts, and web document management and authoring. The mashup of Zimbra and Skype will delivers a low-cost Unified Messaging solution.

Today, OnState has announced their multi-modal solution is being used by B4 Consulting.

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